A few months ago I sent a newsletter out updating people on my newest blog about spiritual awakenings, transcendentalism, etc. I included a free PDF copy of the book I had just published about my own transformations to the recipients, and was quite taken by a totally unexpected response from a former colleague who was still ticking his time away in uniform as a Navy combat pilot. It went something like this: “DUDE, I’ve already looked at several pages of your book. I had no idea you’ve been through so much….seems you’re on a long vision quest, my friend.”
The vision quest begins with a hike into the Amazon.
That really struck me. First, I thought I had lost this dear friend during my quite public expressions of out-of-the-ordinary experiences I had been undergoing for several months. Second, if I hadn’t lost him, I would’ve never expected that he was actually paying any attention, nor that he’d be interested in a thing I’d have to say in what easily could be construed as manic-depression. And finally, it hadn’t occurred to me that I had, in fact, launched into a very long vision quest. I thought those, by definition, lasted maybe four days while fasting and isolated in the wilderness.
I had to take a look at the last several months more closely to see what my buddy-turned-teacher was saying; admiring, even. His comments came around a full year after I had set myself totally free from the material world and went to South America, for the first time being a traveler on my own dime and agenda. Though I was back in homeland when he wrote these words – which were far more profound than I’m sure he intended – I was still itching for my new wife and me to head out for the first time together and see where the road led us as a duo.
It suddenly hit me: I was, as he said, on a very long vision quest to find something far more meaningful in life than the safety that home soil offered.
In my book, which is a memoir of a 21-year sailor-turned-Awakened whatever you’d call me now, I mention frequently how our times are deficient in the Rites of Passage ceremonies of our ancestors’ eras. We have somehow been confused, lost, and separated from the days of shamans and other villagers guiding us through momentous journeys into our deeper selves. Once upon a time we’d be sent out with no food into a sacred spot where we’d sit, vision, dream, trance, and come face-to-face with our demons (aka egos), in the hopes that on the other side of the venture we’d return with a more connected understanding of our presence and how it intertwines with all things and beings on our planet.
Rites of Passage can make you look like an Apocalypse Now extra.
Now? Rites of Passage are up to us to seek, if and when we’re ready. No more shamans, elders, animal guides, or anything that can externally cue us to go find ourselves. Straight to college, work, family life, home-buying…the things that actually weaken us on the whole mind-body-spirit levels if we’re not fully prepared.
So what are we to do?
Well, as it turns out, I was not alone on the global highway; far from it, in fact. I had no idea whatsoever how many travel bloggers, quiet vagabonds, roaming gypsies, and wanderlust souls in general that were already laying tracks in the world. Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor were these unexpected aids that came to me after I was a few weeks into my trek into my soul. Though at first I felt quite un-special when I discovered there were few paths not already tread, I soon came to appreciate that many were traveling and, like me, many were finding things about themselves that they had not known before taking the leap of faith. It became pretty cool, in fact, that I was able to meet many like-minded journeyers. I felt a bit like I had found some of that lost camaraderie from my former naval career.
Hippie, or the heartbeat of the Earth?
The people I used to view as stoned hippies incapable of holding a real job suddenly were the ones showing me the world through imaginative and conscious lenses. I discovered that trees have voices, animals need our awareness and love, jungles are intensely mesmerizing, people who speak languages that I don’t are people too, and so many more things that the school books could never touch. In short, I found how closely connected we all are and that there is a lot to be said about the butterfly effect: If I’m open and in a gentle space, so goes the energy around me. Conversely, when I’m pissed, angry because I just got scammed, or in general passing mental judgments on the human beings near me, there is an equal return on energy that perpetuates the reality being created moment by moment in my critical head.
I witnessed people helping me make a bus connection with authentic concern for another human, even when I was sure they were cursing me out in their native tongue. I saw the Universal truths through a shaman’s guidance during an Ayahuasca ceremony deep into the Amazonia region. I had people of different cultures start unprovoked discussions with me about angels and other unseen guides. I ate vegetarian-only for several weeks while volunteering with Hare Krishnas on a totally eco village. And that’s just the first trip I took, solo, with no itinerary whatsoever.
It was true. My buddy had called it like it was for me: I had initiated a yet-to-be fully recognized vision quest that is now continuing after three and a half months of traveling SE Asia with the wife I apparently had to return to the US post-South America to marry. The Rites of Passages that I had sort of unintentionally put myself through just over a year ago prepared me for the next steps of finding a sustainable love; someone with whom I could share a mindful journey through all that this world has to offer. It’s pretty impressive, really, when you think about it.
In all the years of military, I had for sure undergone growth benchmarks that only a military person can understand. And yet I still found myself post-retirement lost, lonely, and confused about what I was supposed to do with my life. Traveling became the answer to the great questions we all face at some point, if we are the types who seek greater meaning than the status quo. Only a traveler knows what I’m saying. This is where I made amends with the losses of military life: finding myself amongst another tribe of higher purpose seekers.
Finally it occurs to me that I’m actually ready to turn around and help provide a loose road map for others, much like I did after a certain point in my previous career. Having found a sense of renewed purpose, combined with the knowledge that I can touch the stars because I have the time and the liberation to do so, I realize that sharing my own stories will help those behind me who haven’t fully let go of the rock yet. It’s a truly beautiful and miraculous process: those who reach new territories have a wellspring of experience to tap into. We are the shamans. And yet, the mysteries of what lies ahead for the next person are for them to find out, quite alone, just as we and our ancestors did.
Do I think my way through life, or return and be a part of the pulse?
Bio: Wind is retired from the United States Navy, a published spiritual author, and a Reiki/Energy worker. He is traveling the world with his twin flame, Allison, and blogging about their mindful adventures at
. They are available for Life Coaching and holistic Organizational Consulting for NGO's.